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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 1989

Growth and acetylene reduction activity by intact plants of Alnus incana under field conditions

Huss-Danell, Kerstin; Lundquist, Per-Olof; Ekblad, Alf


The nitrogen-fixing grey alder, Alnus incana (L.) Moench, has a potential use in forest soil restoration and as part of energy forestry plantations. As a first step to estimate nitrogen fixation by A. incana under field conditions we performed studies on nitrogenase activity and its possible relation to abiotic factors and growth of the alders. Nitrogenase activity was measured as acetylene reduction activity (ARA) on eleven 1-year-old seedlings of A. incana inoculated with a local source of Frankia and planted in an experimental plot located in Umeå, northern Sweden. Each alder was planted into an open-ended cylinder which was closed with a gas tight lid around the stem base to serve as cuvette during ARA measurements. Propane served as tracer gas. ARA was measured in the middle of the day at 15 occasions during 26 June to 29 September 1987. Growth was recorded as leaf area and top shoot length at each ARA measurement until the end of August. Weather conditions were recorded for the whole growing season. Maximal ARA was recorded in late July or early August and ranged from 1.86 to 106 μmol C₂H₄ plant⁻¹h⁻¹. Final leaf area ranged from 0.022 to 0.124m². A relationship between ARA and the number of hours of sunshine during the same day was observed. ARA in relation to soil temperature increased during the study period, except for the last measurements. ARA in relation to leaf area was initially high but decreased later on. It is suggested that as leaves got older their contribution to photosynthesis per unit leaf area decreased and their potential to deliver nitrogen for retranslocation within plant increased. Both of these events would cause reduced ARA per unit leaf area. The data on ARA, growth, and abiotic factors taken together supported the view that sunshine and weather conditions affected photosynthesis and thereby delivery of assimilates to the nodules.

Published in

Plant and Soil
1989, Volume: 118, number: 1/2, pages: 61-73
Publisher: Springer

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